Faith: I am One with the Force, and the Force is with Me

Have y’all run across Heather Bock from the Glimpses of Jesus blog? I started following her a number of months ago and so appreciate her humor and faith. This post of Heather’s, about ROGUE ONE and my favorite character from the movie, Jedi Knight Chirrut, has stuck with me ever since I read it the first time. Finally, I’m reblogging it to share with you! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you, Heather, and enjoy, dear readers!
–Wren

Heather Bock

i-am-with-jesus-and-jesus-is-with-me

by Heather Bock

“for we walk by faith, not by sight”
II Corinthians 5:7

I didn’t grow up watching the Star Wars movies like my husband and many others did. The first time I watched them was in the theater, but it was when they were rereleased in the late 1990s. Therefore, I don’t have as much emotional attachment as others might, but I do enjoy watching the movies and following the story (sometimes semi-following: my eight year old son, Mr. C, was a big help during the last film, as he often leaned over to whisper explanations about new characters). So when Rogue One came out,

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Win a Copy of “Choosing Real” ~ Responding to Life’s Unexpectedness (Giveaway Ends 3/19/17)

I was captivated by the idea of Bekah Jane Pogue’s new book Choosing Real.  How do you respond to life–and to God–when life doesn’t go as planned?  When schedules become overfull?  When suffering and difficulty press in?  I had the lovely opportunity to read Choosing Real when the BlogAbout Blogger Network provided a copy for me to review–as well as a copy to give away to one reader!

 

 

So what is Choosing Real?

Subtitled “An Invitation to Celebrate When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned,” Bekah Jane Pogue’s wonderful book addressed the questions that every woman has to face sooner or later.  We all have that image of the picture-perfect life; you know, the one we’re striving for.  The one that our list-making ought to be achieving (if we just get everything checked off and accomplished).  That our Pinterest boards should be illustrating.

But, life doesn’t work that way.  Although it feels as though it should at times.  Life intrudes with messiness; with suffering; with unexpected pit stops and sharp turns that we weren’t planning for (and, by the way, that weren’t even included on our to-do lists).

So what exactly do we do when we’re exhausted, or sidelined by illness or tribulation, or simply struggling with the fact that life doesn’t look like we thought it would at this point?  When we’ve served and volunteered and run ourselves ragged but we’re not satisfied and we’re not at rest?  And where exactly is God, what does He expect of me anyway, and how much more can I possibly do to meet His expectations?

Except maybe they’re not His expectations for me at all.

There came a day, after Bekah’s dad passed away unexpectedly, that she sat on a bench and told God she was done.  She had nothing left to give, no ability left to serve; no more smiles; she was empty.

And she discovered that He was okay with that.  In fact, maybe even happy with it.  Bekah had lived as though she was the pursuer of God; that she was the one responsible for everything; that the faith life was all up to her.  And the idea of God enjoying her, just as she was?

Until she came to the end of herself, I don’t know that she would have imagined that.  And yet that was what she found at that point.  The invitation comes from God, not from us.

Bekah said that this–that realizing that she could be completely REAL with God–actually saved her life.  (I can relate to that!)

So how do we live, being real with God?

Bekah shares about her experiences–that can also be our own.  Sometimes it’s an outlook we can pursue.  Sometimes it’s questions we can ask.  Sometimes it is just stopping and taking another look at the way we’re used to behaving or acting.  Here’s a list of some of the ways Bekah, and we, can inject realness into our lives:

  • Saying “yes” to God’s invitations
  • Learning how to really experience rest
  • Finding God in the middle of the loss
  • Understanding our identities in the messes and transitions of life
  • Knowing we are “seen”
  • And more

What Choosing Real is meaning to me

Have you ever read a book and thought, “Eureka!  Exactly!”

This is a book that so resonated with me.   I don’t know Bekah in person, only from reading her book.  But so much of what she describes was not just something I recognized, it was experiences I’d lived.  And I’d guess I’m not the only one!  I’ve definitely been a woman who took the entire responsibility of my relationship with God on myself; as if He weren’t going to be doing any approaching and it was all up to me.

Exhausting!

And not really even logical.  If my husband doesn’t just sit on the couch all day, ignoring me and our son and waiting for me to approach him and for him maybe to talk to me (which he DOESN’T–he is awesome!), why would I think that God is just sitting up in heaven waiting for me to do all the work in our relationship?

That’s not even a relationship.  But it wasn’t until I saw Bekah describing her own experiences that I could see the pieces missing from my own perspective.

So no spoilers, but…

here are some of the most meaningful things I’ve read in Choosing Real.

  • Learning to seek His presence when I’m feeling loss
  • Separating my identity from my roles or my emotions
  • Asking if I am sacrificing “my sanity or my family” to make things happen
  • Choosing to engage all my senses when I am in a place of “overwhelm”

There’s so much more.  But I want you to be able to experience it during your own read!

Finally…

Would I recommend this book to you?

Yes.  I love Bekah’s friendly manner of writing.  It really does feel that she’s writing to you personally–who happens to be her very good friend.  So the book is a pleasure to read.

But even more important, the themes she shares and the perspectives she offers are words of wisdom that I believe we as women desperately need to hear.  We all have questions about our value, our identities, and how we’re “supposed” to interact with God–and what He wants of us.  The way we answer those questions is often shaped by our own experiences (both painful as well as positive) rather than by God’s own truth and His own value of us.

Choosing Real reminded me often of a beloved childhood book, The Velveteen Rabbit, which emphasizes the importance of being Real; Real with a capital R.  It turns out that we don’t have to be well-worn and threadbare to be Real.  Rather, we can engage in Realness in the relationship that defines us the most clearly, which will affect not only our perspectives of ourselves, but also our relationships, and the work of our lives.

And it can set us out on the road we long to be on; the place of Rest with a capital R with the God who loves us.

 

 

And you can enter to win your own copy!

Just click on the pink Enter Here link below, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools page with the entry form.  Giveaway ends March 19, 2017 at 11:59 PM.

Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

The Encouraged Mama ~ 5 Days of Homeschool 101 ~ Plus Giveaway!

Are you a mama who needs a little encouragement?

The Encouraged Mama Banner

We’ve all been there, at times.  During my mothering career we have experienced major surgeries, unemployment, funerals.  We’ve had school subjects we hated and challenging experiences with friends.  On the other hand, we’ve also had great joy, amazing job provision, answered prayers, spiritual growth as individuals and as a family, and fun trips.  Through all of these I’ve seen my own trust in God and His hand on my journey in places both strong and shaky.

How does one stay encouraged during times that are good or hard?  I have to admit that during our family’s last period of trial, my faith was shaken to a degree I’d never imagined was possible.  But after years of struggle I actually began to believe my own experiences over the truth of God’s Word.  I have to admit, that was horrible!  But God really is faithful.  He has shown me some things that I am really valuing and wanting to hold on to.  I want to be an encouraged mama.  Here are some things that are moving me more in that direction!  (Plus, at the end of this post, I have a little giveaway to bless one reader with—some pretty little things that I hope will be an encouragement!)

 

The Encouraged Mama pic 1A fabulous women’s Bible study

This Beth Moore Bible study almost jumped into my hand one day at the bookstore!  I had just been noticing, after that long time of trial, how very devoid of the fruits of the Spirit I had become.  I really was missing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.  Not that those qualities NEVER were evident in me; but they certainly didn’t seem to be the overriding foundation of my personality anymore.  How was I going to get back to the place where those were really part of me?

Ta-da!  One afternoon, we decided to go to Family Christian Store, which was having a B1G1 50% off sale on books.  The three of us wandered around and I started looking at women’s Bible studies.  And there it was.  A Bible study (which I love) by fellow Texan Beth Moore (whom I also love) on the very topic my heart was crying out for.  It truly has been the very thing I needed at this moment.

Maybe the fruits of the Spirit aren’t what you are looking for right now…but there are so many other amazing women’s Bible studies out there.  See if you can find something that is speaking to your heart.  God’s Word does accomplish so much in us—and it is the only “thing,” apart from people (who aren’t things) that really does last forever.  Isaiah 40:8 reminds us of that:  “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

 

The Encouraged Mama pic 2Beautiful art

All right.  I know that I just said that “things” don’t last forever.  I know that.  But maybe because I really adore teaching art, I find great pleasure in looking at and enjoying beautiful art.  A lovely painting; an unusual sculpture; even architecture.  (Though I’ve never been to England, I love looking at London’s skyline.  It’s just breathtaking.)

Beautiful art speaks to my heart and soul in ways that they actually need.  I don’t know why.  But I know that this experience is rich, soothing, wonderful to me.

 

The Encouraged Mama pic 3Experiencing nature

There are so many awe-inspiring things in nature.  And it doesn’t have to only be the Grand Canyon or the Pacific Ocean (though those are both incredible!).  What about flowers?  Cattails?  A snowy meadow?  A hummingbird?  All of these, and more, encourage me and remind me of God’s careful handcrafting for us of “all good things for us to enjoy.”

The common denominator

I realize that the three things I’ve listed that build me up and encourage me all have one thing in common; taking a moment to rest.  You can’t really do Bible study while you’re vacuuming; or watch a hummingbird while you’re going to the grocery store; or look at art while you’re teaching phonics.  But each one of these doesn’t take hours to do; really, if you can just take a moment they can truly rest your soul.  And of course you can take your children with you to the art museum, or to the park or backyard to look at nature.  And think of this; if you’re doing these together with your children you’re not just having a sweet moment with them (which is pretty special and important).  No, you’re modeling and teaching for them that you CAN take a moment to rest.

That’s not only important for us…but for them as well.  We can all use a bit of that in our culture, can’t we?

 

The Encouraged Mama giveawayAnd…a special giveaway for you!

Finch and I have a sweet giveaway to encourage one special mama.  Just enter the Giveaway Tools entry form below.  One person will win the following:

    • A handmade card from Paper Doll Greetings
    • A handmade mini-journal from Paper Doll Greetings
    • A delicate blue stone bracelet

 

5 Days of Homeschool 101
Blog Hop

Today is the last day of the Crew’s “5 Days of Homeschool 101” Blog Hop.  Be sure to check out some of the amazing blog posts on encouragement shared by these wonderful bloggers!

Enjoy!  –Wren

http://www.linkytools.com/thumbnail_linky_include.aspx?id=271512

Hope Unfolding ~ A Great New Encouraging Read from Becky Thompson

I have to admit that I chose this book in part because of its beautiful cover:

Hope Unfolding image

I have to admit, my life is not organized around beauty, or beautiful things.  (We tend more to the practical, usable, and so on.)  But every now and then, I crave beauty.  I want to see and smell fresh flowers, or look at beautiful art, or take pictures of an incredible sunset.  So when I saw Hope Unfolding for the first time, I was in one of those places where my heart and my spirit were calling out for beauty.

But Hope Unfolding is much, much more than just a beautiful cover.  It is filled with joy, encouragement, truth and hope for mamas who need someone to speak those things into their lives.  And this book met those needs for me wonderfully.

Author Becky Thompson, of the blog Scissortail Silk (now BeckyThompson.com), is a mother herself.  And she knows all about how moms need to hear from God about their value, their meaning, and His love for them.  And the fact that He is happy about them and what they are doing!

In this encouraging read, Becky talks about:

  • how God has not forgotten about you
  • how His plans for you are perfect—whether you can see the way they’re working out or not
  • how He can, and desires to, be the strength that you need
  • how you don’t have to compare yourself to that “perfect” mom you know—that you can have grace for yourself
  • and so many more thoughts and ideas that will bless a mama

 

Summer 2016 079As I said, I received this lovely book at a time when I really needed some beauty in my life.  We were heading toward the end of a very full (scholastically) semester, I had stacks of projects I hadn’t had a moment to turn my attention toward, I had a lapful of reviews to write…and I was tired.  Really tired.  And don’t get me wrong!  I love my family.  I love what I do, and what we do together.  But it had been a full, and at times, challenging, semester.

So I received Hope Unfolding.  I read a few paragraphs of it most mornings during my quiet time.  And oh, how it blessed me!  It nourished my soul.  It spoke truths over me that I needed to hear.  And it increased my joy and helped me think about the things that are true….not the things my circumstances were telling me.

If you look at the right of the book in my photo above, you can see lots of turquoise blue tabs.  Do you know what those are?  They’re tiny Post-It notes.  Stuck on paragraphs or words that really spoke to my heart.  (There are a lot of those, aren’t there?)  Here are just a couple of my most-loved ones:

  • “What if I reminded you that even the most unspectacular moments are all steps on the path down which God is calling your heart?” (p. 26)
  • “…the Lord taught me what it meant to stop in the middle of my day and listen for how He might be leading me.  This tuned my ears to hear His voice more clearly.” (p. 45)
  • “But the truth is, the sun can only stay hidden for so long before it begins to rise again, and hope can only stay buried for so long before it begins to bloom.”  (p.63)

So many good and perfect words that I needed to hear more than I knew.  (And I didn’t even list half of the most meaningful!)  This lovely, lovely book did just what the title promised; it unfolded hope in me.

And I would say that that is an incredible outcome for the time I spent in it!  Hope Unfolding is going to stay on the bookcase beside my bed, where I can reach for it in the coming months.  I know it will continue to be a joyful, rich resource.

Enjoy!  –Wren

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”